Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is in the air. Unfortunately, it’s also that time of year when we are bombarded with messaging about how to improve our romantic and sexual relationships. We are told if we  buy this product or go on that adventure it will make any relationship “perfect.” 

Even candy gives relationship advice, ordering us to “kiss me” and “be mine”. But what if those messages on the candy hearts are wrong? What’s really at the heart of any good relationship actually starts with a large order of FRIES.

Relationships, romantic or platonic, are a series of behaviors two people engage in with each other. When people reflect on those behaviors, it creates space for behavior changes that can be positive for any relationship. I suggest that people think  about the behaviors they and their partner are engaging in and place them in one of three buckets: 

  • Healthy Behavior: behaviors that allow for both partners to have equal control, power, and agency to consent to
  • Unhealthy Behavior: Behaviors that are starting to take away one person’s power, control, and agency to consent
  • Abusive Behavior: behaviors that have taken away one person’s power, control, and agency to consent

Consent is the key word. Consent is often associated merely with saying yes to something, but there are several elements that must be present for consent to truly happen in a healthy relationship. FRIES shows what consent is really about...

  • Freely Given: Consent cannot be given if a person is threatened, forced, blackmailed, or tricked into saying yes
  • Reversible: Even if someone has said they consent to an activity, they can change their mind at any point. Their partner should respect that change and not pressure them to continue or shame them for changing their mind
  • Informed: Someone can only consent if they know the facts to what they are consenting to.
  • Enthusiastic: Consent is about saying yes to something that a person really wants to do. They are not saying yes because they have been pressured or guilt tripped by a partner until they give in
  • Specific: Saying yes to one thing does not give consent for something else. Saying yes to a specific act does not give consent for any other behavior

When we engage in behaviors that give partners equal power, we create relationships that are built on choice, respect, and consent.  So this Valentine’s Day if you are looking to spend some time setting up relationship goals with friends or lovers, consider skipping the candy hearts and bring an order of FRIES instead.

Tags: Sex Ed, relationships, healthy relationships, consent, consensual sex, informed consent, FRIES, sex-education


This website uses cookies

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors use cookies and other tools to collect, store, monitor, and analyze information about your interaction with our site to improve performance, analyze your use of our sites and assist in our marketing efforts. You may opt out of the use of these cookies and other tools at any time by visiting Cookie Settings. By clicking “Allow All Cookies” you consent to our collection and use of such data, and our Terms of Use. For more information, see our Privacy Notice.

Cookie Settings

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors, use cookies, pixels, and other tracking technologies to collect, store, monitor, and process certain information about you when you access and use our services, read our emails, or otherwise engage with us. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences, or your device. We use that information to make the site work, analyze performance and traffic on our website, to provide a more personalized web experience, and assist in our marketing efforts. We also share information with our social media, advertising, and analytics partners. You can change your default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of required cookies when utilizing our site; this includes necessary cookies that help our site to function (such as remembering your cookie preference settings). For more information, please see our Privacy Notice.



We use online advertising to promote our mission and help constituents find our services. Marketing pixels help us measure the success of our campaigns.



We use qualitative data, including session replay, to learn about your user experience and improve our products and services.



We use web analytics to help us understand user engagement with our website, trends, and overall reach of our products.